Physical Activity for Life

September 8th is World Physiotherapy Day which is a global event recognising the incredible role physiotherapists play in the community and the relationships they have with their patients.  Physiotherapists have a key role in helping people with long-term conditions achieve their goals, fulfil their potential and participate fully in society. They work with people to maximise movement and functional ability. The focus for World Physiotherapy Day 2017 is “Physical Activity for Life”, showing how physiotherapists can help keep people of all ages active.

All healthy adults need to be physically active. Globally, around 26% of adults aged 18 and over are not active enough. Physical activity and exercise help people lead happy and healthy lives.

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, responsible for 6% of deaths around the world. Changes in lifestyle of the human race means that people are becoming inactive, with many adults spending 70% or more of their waking hours sitting down.

Physical activity improves cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular health and reduces the risk of many conditions including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. To stay healthy or improve health, adults should do 2 types of physical activity each week – aerobic and strength exercises. More on this to come!

Physical Activity and Adults

Exercise and physical activity are different things. Physical activity can include household tasks and gardening, as well as dancing, running and cycling. Even a little physical activity can help to improve your health for the future.

The World Health Organisation has two classifications:

  • moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking or cycling
  • vigorous intensity activity, such as running or fast swimming

Adults should aim to be active daily. Over the course of a week, adults aged 18-64 should do a total of at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity (or a combination of the 2), in bouts of 10 minutes of more e.g. 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 5 times per week.

Moderate intensity activity will cause you to get warmer, breathe harder and your heart to beat faster; you should still be able to carry on a conversation but not sing the words to a song. This includes activities such as:

  • brisk walking
  • water aerobics
  • cycling on level ground
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball

Vigorous intensity physical activities will cause you to breathe much harder and your heart beat rapidly, making it more difficult to carry on a conversation. This includes activities such as:

  • jogging or running
  • swimming
  • cycling fast or on hills
  • tennis
  • sports such as football, rugby or hockey
  • skipping rope
  • aerobics
  • gymnastics
  • martial arts

In addition, adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least 2 days a week. Muscle strength is necessary for:

  • all daily movement
  • to build and maintain strong bones
  • to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure
  • to help maintain a healthy weight

Activities that strengthen muscles involve using body weight or working against a resistance and should involve using all major muscle groups. This can include:

  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • body weight exercises such as push ups and sit ups
  • heavy gardening such as digging and shovelling

Muscle strengthening exercises are not an aerobic activity, therefore you’ll need to do them in addition to your 150 minutes of aerobic activity.

As well as getting regular exercise, adults should also minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods. This can be done by:

  • reducing time spent watching TV, using the computer or playing video games
  • taking regular breaks at work
  • breaking up sedentary time such as swapping a long bus or car journey for walking part of the way

Physical Activity for Life - Revive Physiotherapy and Pilates

Image credit: www.wcpt.org/wptday

Benefits of Being Physically Active

According to the World Health Organisation, there is strong evidence to demonstrate that being active daily:

  • reduces the risk of a range of diseases including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon cancer, breast cancer and depression
  • helps maintain a healthy weight
  • helps maintain the ability to perform everyday tasks with ease
  • improves self-esteem
  • lowers the risk of falling
  • improves cognitive function
  • lowers the risk of a hip or vertebral fracture
  • reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety

How can your physiotherapist help you?

Physiotherapists can help you integrate physical activity into your day-to-day life. With an advanced understanding of how to keep the body moving, physiotherapists can advise on activities and exercise for people of all ages. This very blog has a range of suggestions for easing back in to exercise, strengthening, and injury prevention.

Physiotherapists keep people moving through interventions which maximise strength and mobility. Through advice and exercise programmes they support people of all ages to achieve activity goals.

Physiotherapists can help you exercise safely to improve your flexibility, strength and function. They can also help to improve balance which reduces the risk of falling, hip and vertebral fractures. Your physiotherapists will help you take control of your health and stay well. For more information and advice on how we can help you, contact us at Revive!

For more information about the World Confederation for Physical Therapy, jump on over to the WCPT website. There you can read up on World Physiotherapay Day, this year’s theme and message, and how to get involved!

World Confederation of Physical Therapy - Revive Physiotherapy and Pilates